On February 5th, 2018, the Virginia State Senate passed Senate Bill 726 by a unanimous 40-0 vote. The bill will allow doctors to recommend cannabidiol oil and THC-A oil for the treatment of any clinically diagnosed condition, thus vastly expanding Virginia medical marijuana laws. A simultaneous unanimous passage of the companion bill HB 1251 in the Virginia House of Delegates will allow citizens of the commonwealth of Virginia to have legal access to medical cannabis.
What Medical Marijuana Virginians Will Now Have Access To
The unanimous passage of SB 726 was a shining example of legislative cooperation in a purple state full of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike. Republican Senator Siobhan Dunnavant, who speaks on the issue of patient’s rights with heightened authority thanks to her status as a medical doctor, had this to say about the process of legalizing medical marijuana. “After this week, I won’t be able to forget Tamra Netzel, the patient and my constituent with multiple sclerosis that testified on behalf of this bill in committee. My niece also has MS and having the opportunity to help others in similar situations means a lot to me.”
The passage of SB 726 and HB 1251 will allow Virginians like Ms. Netzel, or someone dealing with the negative side effects of chemotherapy treatment, to seek out scientifically supported alternative medicine that utilize the cannabis compounds cannabidiol (CBD) and THC-A. Cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis that is gaining mainstream notoriety as more states legalize medical marijuana, provides anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and anxiety soothing benefits without the typical “high” experienced from cannabis consumption.
THC-A, while less understood and far less popular than CBD, still packs many of the same non-psychoactive benefits that CBD does. THC-A naturally occurs in cannabis and is present until cannabis is dried, smoked, vaporized, or heated enough to turn the non-psychoactive THC-A into the highly psychoactive and vastly more recognized THC. THC-A in relatively small doses can provide many of the same anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, and even neuroprotective properties as CBD. THC-A is most easily absorbed into the body via consuming raw and unheated cannabis and most popularly, by juicing the raw cannabis flower. Due to THC-A’s relative unpopularity, the list of THC-A extracted products is still staggeringly low.
Who Will Have Access To Medical Marijuana In Virginia
Doctors in Virginia will now be able to recommend THC-A or CBD to patients for any condition that has been diagnosed by a medical professional. The groundbreaking move to allow physicians to recommend cannabis treatment solves an important issue many states are facing. In other states where medical marijuana is legal, only a small pool of conditions are deemed sufficient for a doctor to recommend medical cannabis treatment.
This meant that legislators, not patients or physicians, decided what conditions are worthy of a cannabis recommendation, leaving many who felt the need to use medical cannabis to purchase products from the black market. By delegating the decision to physicians, Virginia legislators are giving them the necessary power to decide subjectively who deserves cannabis treatment.